A United Nations committee says a Basque Country woman should be compensated after being forced to have a caesarean section birth which involved having her arms strapped down.

The UN committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women said authorities were guilty of ‘obstetric violence’ against the woman committed by medical staff at a San Sebastian hospital.

Doctors induced her labour prematurely, without her consent, the committee said.

They then proceeded with a C-section without her husband present and did not allow her to immediately hold her newborn boy since she was still strapped down, it added.

The woman suffered physical and mental trauma, the committee said.

She was told by a court that doctors should decide on C-sections and that her psychological harm was simply a matter of perception.

Spain’s Health Ministry declined to comment on the case, but said a draft law approved in May would help promote good childbirth practices through a series of national and international guidelines.

Such violence against women in childbirth is widespread, systematic in nature, ingrained in health systems and can cause physical and psychological damage, the UN committee found.

However, public investigations into cases are rare and one of the only precedents is another case where the same UN committee also ruled against against Spain in 2020.

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